Day 2 featured an excursion to Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. We were lucky to catch up with a few birds that, although widespread, can be difficult to see. A highlight for me was a Gray-headed Kite soaring over the mangroves, but this male Black-crowned Antshrike made for a surprise photographic opportunity:
Antshrikes are known for their skulking habits, but this bird was more cooperative than usual. It probably helped that we were on a boat in mangrove forest instead of crammed onto a narrow rainforest trail where it could have more easily eluded us.
A more typical denizen of mangrove habitat was this impossibly tiny American Pygmy Kingfisher:
The lovely midnight green band across the upper chest makes this a female. Pygmy Kingfishers often remain concealed in the shade of very low branches over slow-moving water. This bird was no exception, and it took some time before we were able to maneuver our skiff into just the right alley for everyone to catch a glimpse!
Northern Jacana, on the other hand, is a fairly common and easily observed bird of open tropical wetlands. A true shock, however, came when our boat driver encouraged us to look a bit closer at the floating mat of vegetation attended by this Jacana.
Do you see it yet? It was at about this distance I first noticed what he was talking about:
Amazing! This is the first time I've ever been witness to the NEST of a Northern Jacana! Quite a find on the part of our capitán.
The Jacana foraged unperturbed about 10 meters away while we marveled at the pattern of dark chocolate drizzle across wood brown base color. Unlike many species, only the male Jacana incubates the eggs. Pretty neat!